New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Once On This Island (NYC)

From 60 critic and 1,316 member reviews
Members say: Great staging, Great singing, Enchanting, Entertaining, Delightful

About the show

The joyous musical returns to Broadway with its story of a fearless young dreamer in post-storm Haiti. Winner of the 2018 Tony award for Best Revival of a Musical. More…

Set in a fantastical world bursting with Caribbean rhythms and dance 'Once On This Island' tells the extraordinary story of a villager named Ti Moune. After a massive storm rages through her village, a ray of hope appears through a young man from the wealthy side of the island. An unexpected romance blossoms. But when their different cultures threaten to keep them apart, Ti Moune—guided by the island gods—sets out on a journey to stay beside the man who has captured her heart. Directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden ('Spring Awakening' revival) and written by the Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ('Anastasia,' 'Ragtime.')

1h 30m | Already closed | Circle in the Square (Midtown W)

Front Row Center

“Lost none of its luster over the years, and in the production the beauty of this musical has been given its full due and then some...The ensemble contribute in myriad ways to the performance, handing off the narrative to each other in a verbal dance...The cast infuses every moment with spirit, emotion, and music. Everywhere you look something catches your eye...Every single element blends perfectly to bring this already beautiful musical to dazzling, joyous life.” Full Review


“Director Michael Arden's inventive and joyous revival of the 1990 Ahrens and Flaherty musical, ‘Once on This Island,’ reinvents the show as if it were brand new; it is as if you have never seen it before. While the original production seemed inauthentic and labored, the new one now at the Circle in the Square, which can hardly be called a revival as it is such a reinvention, sets a sand-covered island before you in its theater in the round, and the doomed but mesmerizing love story.” Full Review


"Miraculous things happen when you corral a team of talented artists and let them loose in a sandbox...Music that digs its heels into the earth one minute and floats into the heavens the next. Paired with Arden's ensemble-oriented direction, Brown's unchained choreography, and a near-perfect cast, the production walks the delicate line between the minuscule and the infinite...Every element not only tells a story but carries a palpable reverence for the divine art of storytelling." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Defined by its miraculous score, which blends calypso realness with Broadway...Ahrens and Flaherty pack into just 90 minutes all the sensory and emotional impact that most musicals take two hours to deliver...Director Arden expresses the intimacy inherent in the piece by staging it in the round...Perhaps its most miraculous quality of all is that, though it may generate copious tears, we don’t begrudge a single one, and leave the theatre happier than when we entered it." Full Review


“Every moment of this revival touches the heart and rings true...Splendid direction by Arden evokes magical performances from everyone...The music is splendid...Not only that, but the cast brings the orchestrations to life, singing as instruments, as well as actors. It’s subtle, beautiful, brilliant...'Once on this Island' bends rules and makes new ones...Go ahead, enjoy those bent rules. When the result is as divine as 'Once On This Island,' you’ll be thrilled with the result” Full Review


"In difficult and divisive times, it’s inspiring to have a gorgeous musical to remind us of the shared humanity in our hearts...In this bright and thoughtful revival, differences between people are both the center of the story—and made to seem meaningless...If you are coming to New York anytime soon, this is a not-to-miss musical. The music is wonderful, the cast is glorious, and the production one-of-a-kind." Full Review

The Rival at Fordham

“Each storyteller breathes gorgeous life into this pulsing musical with effervescent choreography...Arden directs this show with a meticulously detailed hand. He went above and beyond in creating an immersive atmosphere...Arden left no stone unturned with his astonishing direction; his love, passion, and deep connection to this show radiate tangibly throughout the entire piece...This musical completely shook me to my core.” Full Review


“Exhilarating...Simply done with this exceptional ensemble cast, and especially with Camille A. Brown's striking choreography, carefully crafted for authenticity, this would be a sparkling jewel of a show. But add to that Michael Arden's reminders of humankind's increasing vulnerability as the planet unnaturally evolves, and 'Once On This Island' carries an even greater emotional force." Full Review

The New York Times

"A ravishing revival...A pastiche Caribbean score whose words are restrained and delicately rhymed but whose music is relentlessly grabby and emotional...Arden has aced every theatrical trick he’s torn from the ancient handbook, freshening the show, and the tricks, in the process...The hallmark ingenuity, warmth, and intensity bordering on excess that characterize Arden’s style is recapitulated everywhere within the production, from the frankly stupendous singing to the electric choreography." Full Review

Broadway News

"An absolutely incandescent revival...The delights of this fable-like show, with a rapturous, rhythmically bewitching score by Flaherty and Ahrens, will hold you entranced...The complicated tale, which relies perhaps a little too much on narration, nevertheless comes across with piercing emotional clarity in the buoyant staging...No matter where you look, the theater seems busy with active life...Kilgore glows with big-hearted life...The supporting cast is virtually flawless." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Good as it was then, it’s exponentially better now that director Michael Arden has revived the tuner...When Ahrens and Flaherty tell the story this time, their vivaciously enchanting songs become that much more valuable. As the numbers spring into the air they reinforce a troubled people’s indomitable spirit. Also, Camille A. Brown’s spirited choreography becomes that much more uplifting...Transcendent and shockingly relevant-to-today." Full Review

AM New York

"Emphasizing the musical’s themes of natural disaster and economic inequality, director Michael Arden brings an unexpected dose of gritty realism, while also honoring its gorgeous score of dynamic group numbers and tender ballads. Vocal fireworks and full-bodied dance choreography imbue spirituality and joyful theatricality...Kilgore and the superb supporting cast essentially grab the audience and proceed to take it on an exciting, emotional, and extraordinary journey." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Arden's done it again, this time gloriously integrating the art of theater magic with the even older art of storytelling, resulting in the nigh unto perfect revival...Flaherty's score offers a mix of styles. The songs for Ti Moune call on Hailey Kilgore to embrace us with a full-voiced, emotional style that suits her character's certitude...Truly, any quibbles with this impressive and thoroughly engaging production are minimal." Full Review


"A smashing revival...Arden’s exuberant staging conjures a spell that is devastatingly timely yet affectingly timeless...Much of the show’s charm derives from its seamless interweaving of narrative, song, and dance...A confident, swinging cast is blessed with showcase numbers...Kilgore, like this revival itself, is no imitation but a triumph in her own right, striking exactly the right balance between innocence and spirituality, youth and experience. She’s just wonderful." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“Can seem a bit overburdened. But in this new Broadway revival, director Michael Arden and choreographer Camille A. Brown bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the tale that it hardly matters...However all that may strike you (maybe a little too mythic?), Arden’s theatrical inventiveness, Brown’s ground-shaking, hip gyrating choreography, the Ahrens-Flaherty score and an exemplary cast make it a jubilant, sometimes moving experience." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“In addition to Laffrey’s eye-popping set of repurposed materials, costume design by Ramos and lighting design by Fisher and Eisenhauer create an island kaleidoscope that magically transforms...Arden deftly navigates the cast through the ever-changing landscape...Kilgore is a knockout...Fortunately, Kilgore is surrounded by immense talent, many of whom have their own shining moments...I have a feeling that repeated visits to this island are in order.” Full Review

Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"Under Arden’s imaginative direction, this radiant musical fable flows beautifully, magically, from beginning to end...Reveals more rhythms in its storytelling and beauty in its staging than ever before...The inspirational power of 'Once On This Island' is joyous. Indeed, this production, timed as it is, brings contemporary events like natural disasters and issues like inequality, wealth, and race to mind. In the end, though, what prevails in this entrancing musical is the healing power of st... Full Review


"There is great joy and vitality, which continues from the pre-curtain action right through to the last ravishing moment...The deceptively simple story is woven around lush, powerful, music and lyrics, and a closet full of theatrical magic...Not only the gods are powerful talents in this endlessly entertaining production. Our Romeo and Juliet of the Island, Hailey Kilgore and Isaac Powell, are as charming as any breathless audience member could want." Full Review


“Arden has managed to bring urgency and moving vitality to a musical that can easily fall victim to saccharine sweetness and unearned joy...Less as a benign fairytale and more as a nuanced coming-of-age parable, fraught with pain, as well as the wonders of self-discovery...Ahrens and Flaherty’s rich, unabashedly sentimental score has rarely sounded better...The entire cast is just superlative.” Full Review

Labor Press

"The show bursts with Caribbean rhythms and dance as the story unfolds. Lea Salonga, Phillip Boykin, Darlesia Cearcy, and Merle Dandridge lead an extraordinary ensemble. Director Michael Arden adeptly intertwines the story elements, successfully integrating music, movement, dance, and the folktale...This show is fantastic, charming, and heart-warming entertainment for the entire family. Do not miss this revival." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“With just one step, you’re immediately immersed in the authenticity of this magical, mystical Caribbean island...It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget...The beloved score is clearly a highlight of the experience...The key to any successful revival is in its ability to present the material afresh...Without fail, incomparable Arden undeniably succeeds in this endeavor...In terms of the performers themselves, well, you know you can’t get any better than this trusty group.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Arden has listened, intently, to the words of Ahrens' book and lyrics, and has a found a solid rationale for reinventing 'Once on This Island'...For all its delights, this production never loses sight of the fact that Ti Moune is headed toward tragedy...The moral of this fable: The world only changes through love, expressed unreservedly and without fear of the consequences. Thanks to Arden and his talented company, this moral has never seemed more urgent.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Sparklingly enjoyable revival…A kinetic,…90-minute production with a ‘devised-theatre’ feeling…Regardless of the questions its plot raises, the show bursts with ebullient songs, musically underscored dialogue, colorful choreography, shadow pantomime, gorgeous costumes, and awesome lighting, not to mention exceptional performances…The gifted, beautiful Lea Salonga…, especially in her white gown and exquisite headdress, looks the virtual embodiment of love, reminding us of why she's a star.” Full Review

New York Theater

"With a terrifically appealing cast, as well as a rhythmic score, infectious choreography, vibrantly colorful design, and clever stagecraft, the musical itself could well serve to soothe audience members reeling from the year’s many disasters...One might question some aspects of this 1990 musical...But any such quibbles are swept away like the detritus in a hurricane thanks to the delights large and small in the production." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Broadway’s bewitching revival of Ahrens and Flaherty’s 'Once on This Island' is filled with beauty...Arden’s smart and timely concept underscores the elemental and emotional tempests at work in the musical fable that celebrates love, resilience, and the spirit of hope...Over a fast-moving 90 minutes, the score mixes captivating calypso beats and warm ballads, all brought to life vividly by the fine-tuned cast. Exuberant dancing adds bursts of excitement." Full Review

Epic, Must see, Romantic, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if you're a fan of innovative staging and something never before seen.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of love stories/fables. or musicals performed in the round.

Entertaining, Funny, Enchanting, Romantic, Must see

See it if You love a beautiful love story. This is one of the best shows I have seen.

Don't see it if If you don’t love a love story

Great singing, Enchanting, Great staging, Resonant, Quirky

See it if You love to hear great voices and enjoy a more immersive theater experience

Don't see it if You dislike fables/myths

Also The beauty of this show is immeasurable! Beautiful story telling with ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great singing, Must see, Profound

See it if You want to see a masterful performance in the round and appreciate a not-so-happy ending that shows the way of life for the poor.

Don't see it if You don't appreciate immersive theatre, stories about people of color, or prefer a traditional musical theatre setting.

Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Must see, Profound

See it if You love great singing, dancing, and acting. The story will make you laugh and cry.

Don't see it if You can’t go before Jan.’s closing.

Great staging, Riveting, Refreshing, Must see, Great singing

See it if you want to see an innovative, immersive production with a gorgeous melodic score, poetic lyrics, and a beautiful story.

Don't see it if you’re not into “storytelling” type of theatre. (But really... see it anyway.)

Also You have to appreciate the show as a fable/origin story that explains ... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Masterful, Must see, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if You want to hear amazing voices and be Absorbed into the show with a very intimate venue.

Don't see it if You don’t like musicals...

Absorbing, Great staging, Must see, Riveting, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy shows that are just off the beaten path of regular proscenium stage shows.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of immersive theatre.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if OOTI is musical theater at its best. Michael Arden has created a perfect revival that stirs the heart and mind. Riveting and glorious.

Don't see it if Don't see this if you hate something that makes you feel good and makes you want to leap to your feet.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing, Must see, Profound

See it if You love immersive storytelling. You need a positive boost. You don’t like musicals. You’re from middle America. You’re critical

Don't see it if Your heart can’t be melted.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great singing

See it if you want a beautiful, energetic, interesting, incredible staged piece of diverse theater.

Don't see it if you don't love musicals or magic.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want a fully-immersive, beautifully staged and performed show. Acting and singing are amazing, story is emotional and moving.

Don't see it if you hate good shows

Relevant, Profound, Great staging, Great singing, Exquisite

See it if You enjoy good music and dancing. You believe representation of POC is important.

Don't see it if You’re an idiot.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love excellent singing and staging, a wonderful story, and something very, very special.

Don't see it if a story about the islands doesn't interest you at all.

Absorbing, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound

See it if you love immersive theater.

Don't see it if you hate fun, you monster!

Absorbing, Riveting, Must see, Great staging, Epic

See it if You love immersive theater, fantastic sets, diversity, amazing dancing, and a cast full of true triple threats.

Don't see it if You don’t like tropical style music, or you don’t like shows in the round.

Also By far, this is THE BEST show I’ve ever seen. The staging is absolutel... Read more Read less

Great singing, Great staging, Masterful, Refreshing, Edgy

See it if You love amazing staging, great acting and want to feel like you are in the Caribbean.

Don't see it if You don't like Musicals

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great staging, Stunning

See it if You want to be absorbed in an immersive show or if you are interested in the staging (even if you aren't, the staging is incredible)

Don't see it if N/A

Enchanting, Epic, Must see, Romantic, Profound

See it if You love good music, and a heart-wrenching story. Best musical I've ever seen…and I've seen Hamilton.

Don't see it if you don't like music.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy a musical that's magical and very different. Beautiful music and wonderful acting.

Don't see it if You don't like a different kind of musical.

Absorbing, Enchanting

See it if N/A

Don't see it if N/A

Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Great writing, Must see

See it if you love immersive theatre

Don't see it if you hate immersive theatre

Absorbing, Delightful, Must see, Relevant, Perfect revival

See it if An incredible cast plus brilliant staging plus thoughtful orchestrations equals a perfect revival. Beautiful, masterful, and smart.

Don't see it if You aren’t interested in Aherns and Flaherty, or aren’t looking for a revival.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if Unique story telling. Things were happening all over. Everything about it was beautiful from start to finish.

Don't see it if You need an intermission. Things are happening all around you, so you will be looking around. If you just want to look forward, not for you.

Epic, Resonant, Riveting, Delightful

See it if You enjoy unique shows with thought provoking plots.

Don't see it if You’re not a fan of immersive theatre.

Cast & Creatives (33)